Presenter Redi Tlhabi has spoken out condemning reports that a man was kicked out of a Johannesburg Virgin Active branch for his allegedly offensive t-shirt, presenting a political message on Wednesday evening.
Muhammed Desai, a member of the South African chapter of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions lobby against Israel, is alleged to have been forcibly removed from the Old Eds branch of Virgin Active.
Onlookers claim that his t-shirt, advocating for a boycott of “Apartheid Israel”, angered other gym members, and the police were eventually called to remove Desai.
I was told that I am not allowed to wear my YCL BDS t-shirt because it's pro-Palestinian, and so they've called police to arrest me.— Muhammed Desai, digruntled Virgin Active member
WATCH: Muhammed Desai given the boot at Virgin Active gym over BDS T-shirt
Hilton, an Old Eds Virgin Active customer, says that he has strongly objected to the "pro-Palestinian" attire at a gym he claims is "predominantly Jewish".
According to Hilton, he had confronted another gym-goer, giving him the option to either remove the item or be involved in a "bloodbath".
Tempers flared. There was uneasiness in the gym and I told the chap to either take his shirt off or we go outside and resolve it like men. He had no option but to take it off, because failing that it would have been unpleasant.— Hilton, digruntled Virgin Active member
He says the Old Eds gym is a non-political environment, adding that he has complained to the manager.
Redi Tlhabi responded by saying that Hilton's argument contravenes the Constitutional freedom of expression. She argued that there is a distinct difference between messages that incite violence, and those that show solidarity.
(Scroll down for full audio)
We hear you. We’re aware of the serious situation at Old Eds, are investigating and will you keep you updated.— Virgin Active (@virginactiveSA) August 13, 2015
No substance to that guy's argument. Who's he to decide wat to n watnot to wear to the gym. No threat whatsoever.Just a t shirt @reditlhabi— cindymac (@veracy1) August 13, 2015
Listen to the full conversation from The Redi Tlhabi Show: